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Pitt’s best comes through when pressure is turned up

The clock was winding down in the second quarter and Lafayette was holding for the final shot. The normally uneventful elapsing of time became a highlight as Leon M. Goldstein chose to pressure Patriots point guard Jodyann Pitt.

The 5-foot-2 senior pulled off a combination of crossovers, quick spins and hesitation dribbles to toy with two defenders looking to track her down. They stayed close, but could never corral her. As the clock ticked down to single digits, Pitt drove to the left elbow, drew another defender and fired a pass to a wide open Danesha Williams for an easy layup with five seconds left before halftime.

“When they do apply pressure, Jodi may pull one of her tricks out of the bag,” Lafayette coach Kareem Benson said.

The play put a fitting end to an 11-0 run that would spark the Patriots to an easy 57-28 win over Goldstein to claim it first PSAL Class B title Sunday at Long Island University in Brooklyn. Pitt had six points and five assists in the game and the play everyone will remember.

“I got the one [defender],” Pitt said. “The other one came. … I saw my man. I kept my eyes up and passed it to my open teammate.”

The play, though not executed the same way every time, even has a special name. It’s called Pitts after HS of Sports Management principal Robin Pitts. HS of Sports Management moved into Lafayette’s building last year and the school’s combined teams. The play is just letting Pitt create a basket with her speed and handle.

“[Pitts] always has the final say,” Benson said. “So we want [Pitt] to have the final say. We try to run the time out so we can have the final shot. … She always makes a great move to find the open player. If she doesn’t find the open player, sometimes she finishes.”

Benson, who would rather see Pitt keep her dribble moves simple, said he puts his team through pressure ball-handling drills to try to simulate what they will see in the game, something Pitt has benefited from.

“We expect to be ready for anything,” Pitt said.

Added senior Essence Hopkins: “Jodi’s handle has developed over the years. She gets better and better every game.”

Pitt has been Lafayette’s second leading scorer this season behind Hopkins. She is averaging 19 points per game and seven assists in PSAL games. She and Hopkins (27 points and 11 rebounds per game) have been the Patriots’ dynamic duo all season, but the forward gets more attention from defenses.

“I don’t know why they do that,” Hopkins said. “Why they key on me because she is a great player? It’s like they are disrespecting her..”

Hopkins and Pitt are close both on and off the court they and fellow seniors Williams and Ashley Johnson have a clique they call JADE, a letter for each of their first names. The group was hungry to win a title before they graduated, after losing in the PSAL semifinals a year ago. Lafayette next plays Long Island Lutheran in the state Federation semifinals at 10 a.m. on Friday in Glens Falls as it now goes for another title.

“We experienced a loss [last year],” Pitt said. “We knew we didn’t want to feel that way. Our coach told us that we can’t turn back time, so we have to do our best on the court now.”

Pitt and company certainly listened.

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